Hotlinking is a term used to signify that the images that you use in the post do not come from the same server that hosts the content.
For example, consider these two images:
Both are same images and look similar – any difference attributed to showing that they are different images. The left pic is coming from the same server that hosts this content (i.e., from technosanct.com), while the pic at the right comes from my Google drive. But the image could have easily been sourced from any website (say, from Wikipedia). I am hotlinking the image from my post by using the latter way.
Hotlinking is discouraged.
- You are using the bandwidth of the third party site, without adding any value to that site
- A lot of sites do not attribute the third party source (or respect copyright), which again results in loss of potential traffic and income for those sites. You get to go on a ride without paying anything
- If the source changes, you have to manually go back and update the posts
- When there are related images on the post, it enjoys a better ranking from a search engine perspective
- While you may optimize your site further using CDN and other techniques, the source of the images may not enjoy the same sophistication thereby slowing your web pages
While all this is true, you find the images on this site often are sourced from my Google drive rather than uploading it here. Why, you may ask, that I preach on when to hotlink images? Why do that when I know all the wrong reasons for doing that?
And, I have my reasons to continue doing that.
- I hotlink from my own drive, where I upload pics specifically to be used by my blog. This image will not go away anywhere unless I wish to do so
- When I started out to blog, I was not sure whether I will stick to one particular platform. Having my images on a neutral place helped me experiment with multiple platforms, while I could easily transfer content from one place to the other. The practice just stuck
- I use screen capture tools that help me capture the whole screen or part of the screen, and upload to my Google drive all in a couple of clicks. I am lazy to move away from this option
- My choice of cheapo hosting providers are not fast, and certainly not comparable to what Google can do. Images have not been slower to render as compared to the content, and I am quite pleased by that
So then, I continue to use hotlinking in this site, and also in a couple of other sites. The biggest risk that I see – Google changing its policies to allow images to be displayed directly in other posts.